It didn't come pretty, however. Another slow start on the offensive end saw Duke dig a five point hole in the first 10 minutes of the ball game as the Blue Devils logged more turnovers (5) than field goals (3) in falling behind 14-9. The sloppy play prompted head coach Mike Krzyzewski to make a mass substitution that immediate paid off as his team reeled off 8 straight to take the first lead of the game at 17-14 with seven minutes left inthe half.
Just when Duke seemed as though they were ready to pull away before intermission, the offense once again went ice cold, not making a basket for more than five minutes. The Crusaders were also cold, but not completely. Holy Cross put together an 10-1 run to take a lead and build a 6 point advantage with under a minute remaining.
The Blue Devils had a chance to reduce that lead with the final possession of the first half, but Greg Paulus dribbles wildly into a double team and was easily stripped as Duke jogged off the floor down 28-22. In total Mike Krzyzewksi's team's first half totaled 12 turnovers while logging shooting percentages of 32% from the field, 17% from the perimeter, and just 55% from the free throw line.
Immediately after half time DUke got a pair of three pointers to fall from Paulus and DeMarcus Nelson, followed by a highlight reel jam from Josh McRoberts to tie the game at 30. After four unanswered, Duke would cap an 12-0 run with a three pointer from Gerald Henderson to make it 42-34 with 11 minutes remaining. Duke would not trail the rest of the way.
All told the Blue Devils held Holy Cross to just 11 points over the final 14:07 of the game. The Crusaders' offense had field goal droughts of 4:06, 2:33, and 2:42 that ultimately spelled doom. On the night the Crusaders were limited to 37% shooting from the field, 19% from the perimeter, and were out-rebounded by a 34-24 margin.
Keith Simmons led Holy Cross with 13 points despite suffering a knee injury early in the second half. Point guard Torey Thomas had a forgettable night, scoring just six points while dishing out three assists, but committing nine turnovers.
Though only McRoberts and Nelson reached double figures, several Blue Devils had solid statistical showings. Freshman Lance Thomas finished with six points and eight rebounds, while classmate Gerald Henderson added 8 points and four boards.
Both teams suffered 20 turnovers on the night. Holy Cross converted those Duke mistakes into 21 points, while the Blue Devils took the 20 Holy Cross turnovers and converted them into 23 points. Duke returns to action this weekend when they host Final Four participant George Mason in Cameron.